Archive for May, 2009

How private is private?

May 29, 2009

Well, not very if you’re a celebrity. And, yes, I know that’s a given and pretty obvious, but I’d like to use a case study to highlight my point here.

Katie Price and Peter Andre: the perfect couple?

I’d like to look at the recent media coverage on what is undoubtedly turning into the country’s biggest marriage break-up (since Jen and Brad, of course).

At the start of the week, the media was reporting the break up in a fairly tasteful manner, stating that ‘Katie and Peter wanted to be left alone’ and that this was a ‘time when their privacy should be respected’.  Fast forward a few days however and you can’t turn the page in a newspaper or magazine without seeing their faces splashed all over it. It’s all turned pretty ugly, in fact.

Peter casually carries his promo CD to a meeting with his divorce lawyer...

Peter casually carries his promo CD to a meeting with his divorce lawyer...

Once again, the media has started a feeding frenzy on someone’s life, and fair do’s, celebrities offer themselves up on a plate for it.

However, this is what the public thrive on – well, those who love their daily dose of celebrity (and I include myself in this). A story has far more longevity if you can bring in past lovers, expert opinions on the matter (body language specialists are always my favourite) and so on and so forth. Dragging out a story is the media’s speciality, especially if it keeps changing every day, and some new juicy gossip arises.

Mind you, can you really blame the media, when celebs such as Mr Andre carry their new album around with them…?, anyone??

May 29, 2009

I’ve just read a fascinating piece about the Britain’s Got Talent ‘stars’ having their domain names registered unofficially, by cheeky web users wanting to cash in on their new found fame.SUBO

The Telegraph reports that ‘thirty-three of the 40 semi-final talent show contestants have had their names registered by internet users, otherwise known as cybersquatters, hoping to make money from the global interest in the show.’

This could be brilliant news for all the Susan Boyle lovers out there, or maybe those who are more fans of the superb Flawless dance crew, as it lets them get even more info on the contestants than what’s already been reported in the papers.

Cybersquatting, however, is nothing new. Previous serious cases of this occurring date back to 2003, when Marks & Spencer had their domain name unofficially registered, which resulted in a court case.  In 2008, cybersquatting hit an all time high, according to Reuters, of 2,329 separate cases.

Cybersquatting is actually relatively easy – it costs from as little as $12 to register a domain name. That’s why ‘unofficial’ sites pop up around big events, or in this case, the Britain’s Got Talent final, as it’s easy to set up a temporary site and cash in on other people’s new found fame.

However, this does pose a threat to the contestants, as Stephen Waddington (@wadds, thanks Twitter) of Speed Communications suggests – about ‘potentially explicit material that may be damaging to their reputations’ being posted.

Wind farms really get my goat

May 27, 2009


With all this talk of global warming and saving the planet, renewable energy sources seem like they can do no wrong. But, I ask you, what about the goats?

A Taiwanese farmer has reportedly lost more than 400 goats after eight wind turbines were installed near his grazing land. From an initial herd of over 700 animals, the farmer – Kuo Jing-shan – now only has around 250 goats left. This isn’t the first time Skywrite has heard strange things about windfarms, either.

The current expert theory is that the goats may have died through sleep deprivation and hypertension caused by noise from the nearby turbines. The company behind the turbines, Taipower, has said that they will pay for part of the cost of building a new farmhouse elsewhere, but they will not provide compensation for the loss of the herd.

Kuo Jing-shan commented: “The goats looked skinny and they weren’t eating. One night I went out to the farmhouse and the goats were all standing up; they weren’t sleeping. I didn’t know why. If I had known, I would’ve done something to stop the dying”.

So before you profess the benefits of renewable energy too loudly, consider that we may be creating a brave new world where no domesticated herbivore is safe.

Duke Nukem Never

May 14, 2009

I remember watching a trailer for Duke Nukem Forever in 1998. This one in fact:

I was somewhat surprised, then, to see the game back in the news recently. I had long since assumed that development had ended. I mean, no one would continue to work on a game for twelve years, would they?

It seems that 3D Realms would, did and have now been forced to close because of it.

To put this in perspective, they have worked on the aptly named Duke Nukem Forever for the same amount of time it took Valve to finish Half-Life, produce two expansions, a sequel and two expansions for the sequel with a third well underway.

The Guardian’s games writer Steve Boxer had little sympathy for the game’s troubled development, saying: “They had more than 12 years…it’s just incompetence of the highest order.”

It makes you wonder just what exactly the team have been doing for all this time? Perhaps they just found themselves  in a downward financial spiral, locked in a death grapple with a monster of their own making?

Here is the latest trailer, which looks to be all we will ever see of the game now:

Infamy, Infamy! They’ve all got it in for me!

May 8, 2009
Computer bites man

Computer bites man

Online shopping at 3am, Facebook, iTunes, email… No one can claim the internet was a bad idea (we’ll let spam go for now…)

But just occasionally something happens to remind you how dangerous that little box in the corner of your room can be to your reputation. Businesses have already woken up to the wildfire that can spread online and decimate their reputation in hours, but it’s even more frightening when this occurs to an individual.

Take what happened recently to a prominent Lost re-capper and reviewer. From the outside this was just a young guy who enjoyed making videos analysing the TV series. In fact, he had amassed a large audience of over 10,000 on YouTube and had even appeared on national TV. But when he was accused of stealing content from other bloggers in the Lost community, the response was irate, immediate and overwhelming… his YouTube videos were removed, his account suspended and copyright infringement claims filed. In a few short days his reputation was shredded to the extent that he may have to give up any thoughts of entering journalism or television presenting.

Still, at least he wasn’t the Star Wars Kid.

This is a purely online phenomenon. There are many cases of high-profile plagiarism in the real-world that have even been taken to court and yet have received little media coverage (have you ever heard of Sofia Stewart?).

Of course, this is partly to do with the huge audience that anyone can find themselves exposed to online. But it also results from the fact that online bloggers and social media addicts have a completely different news agenda to the mainstream media and sometimes even larger audiences. They also have no tangible regulation. And if you do something that angers them, well, you’re in big trouble…

Online, the line between fame and infamy is always dangerously close.

Can social media organise real life events?

May 8, 2009
I was watching The Gadget Show on Channel 5 the other day. One of the features on this particular episode was pitting site du jour Twitter up against long standing fave Facebook, and sought to answer which was the best tool to use to organise an event.
On a personal level, I use Twitter to keep up to date with journalists and other PRs I respect, as well as finding out daily news as and when it happens. I use Facebook for staying in touch with my friends and family who I don’t get to see very often.
Bradbury rallies the troops...

Bradbury rallies the troops...

But is it realistic to use social media to organise real life, actual events? I’d like to tentatively suggest no – for the following reasons:

  1. Lack of RSVPs – if you’re a hardcore party planner such as myself, you want to know exact numbers. Although Facebook says when friend have “confirmed to be attending”, and sites likes Twtvite are popping up on Twitter, there’s just not the same effort involved as actually replying to an RVSP.
  2. Lack of commitment – sure, you say you’re coming, but if you actually turn up or not is a whole different kettle of fish.
  3. Reliability – things can go wrong on sites – the wrong date or time can be posted and go unmissed, thus ruining the entire event! I’ve been there, done that but didn’t even get the T-shirt.

Of course there have been very successful events via social networks – this year’s Twestival is just one example. And we can hardly forget about the ‘the biggest water fight’ organised by Facebook in Leeds last year – which was promptly shut down by police.

Speaking to my friend Mike (@litmanlive), he had this to say about the Gadget Show event:

What fascinated me about this was over 200 people attended on the Twitter side vs a small handful in support of Facebook. 200+ people who read one of @jasonbradbury’s tweets online and made a pledge to attend an event offline during their lunch hour for which they knew very little about. The on and offline worlds transcended into one and it was actually quite exciting to be a part of. Do I think social media can be used for greater good? Without a doubt. Meaningful, thought provoking and engaging communications ala this, twestival, the digital red nose online recently for comic relief or any of the whole host of meetups, tweetups, or anything it seems that ends in -ups = WIN. 

So there we have it. A self confessed geek (his words, not mine) who thinks social media can organise real life events. And as for me – I think it’s a good starting point, but I’ll need a little more convincing.

Death of the Retainer?

May 8, 2009

Skywrite has ruffled some feathers with a recent research report entitled “The death of the retainer”. The report questioned 140 PR and marketing managers, with thirty-two per cent saying that monthly PR retainers were outdated and thirty-one per cent agreeing that more flexibility was needed in PR budgets.

Major brands like Vodafone and 3 have been quick to enter the discussion, as this recent article in  PR Week demonstrates.

Read the full report and decide for yourself here.

Money makes the world go round...

Money makes the world go round...

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